CEO Update: Focusing on women as the second wave swells

Focusing on women as the second wave swells

This week is Women’s Health Week, and it has never been more important to focus on the particular physical and mental health needs of women.

Our society faces countless social and community challenges, with the COVID-19 pandemic now a significant inclusion to these challenges. When it comes to the disproportionate negative impact of these challenges on women, the data is very clear.

The following is just a small selection of the data I am talking about – focusing on Victoria, given the extra pressure the state is currently under. I would encourage you to read and absorb each point below:

  • August 28 was #EqualPayDay, and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency reports the gender pay gap remains at an appalling 14%. The significance of the August 28 date? It marks the 59 additional days from the end of the previous financial year that women must work, on average, to earn the same amount as men.
  • According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, nationally nearly 4 in 5 workers in health care and social assistance are women. Women are the essential workers of our Covid-19 response and are also bearing the brunt of job losses. More Victorian women are unemployed than ever before, and work for women is less secure and lower paid (Batchelor, McKell Institute August 2020).
  • Young females in their late teens are more likely than other Australians to be victims of sexual assault, according to police-recorded data in a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (August 2020, AIHW).
  • Intimate partner violence is all too common, has severe and persistent effects on women’s physical and mental health and carries with it an enormous cost in terms of premature death and disability. Indeed it is responsible for more preventable ill-health and premature death in Victorian women under the age of 45 than any other of the well-known risk factors, including high blood pressure, obesity and smoking (VicHealth 2004).
  • Research from Our Watch has found that 1 in 2 Australians find it difficult to recognise non-physical abuse in a relationship, while data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that 1 in 4 women have experienced at least one incident of non-physical abuse from a partner. 
  • More than 50 per cent of police time is devoted to family violence, with an incident dealt with every six minutes. Women face more danger from a partner or former partner than from any other offender. They are at most risk when they try to break free, when their tormentors fear losing control. (Silvester, 29 August 2020, Time to admit our national shame, The Age)

Considering all this, is it any wonder that women have higher rates of mental ill-health globally?

And I note that this data does not go into the overrepresentation in all this of women with disabilities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women in rural and remote areas, women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and immigrant and refugee women.

At Mental Health Australia, we are becoming more and more concerned about the ‘second wave’ of the pandemic, the mental health impact, and its likelihood to effect women in particular. Especially younger women, and women whose economic situation is critically unstable. Women who find themselves in violent relationships or whose living situation is becoming more unsafe – only made worse by the current lockdown and restrictions on movement (although Victoria has made it very clear that you can leave your house to escape harm or risk of harm).

I am privileged to have a family full of young women who are contributing in a myriad of ways to a society that, in my view, doesn’t work hard enough to protect them, recognise their brilliance, honour their potential, support their leadership and grow their strength.

But even still, this is not personal. This is about the responsibility we all share to respond actively to those who are extremely vulnerable to economic disadvantage, denigration, alienation and abuse.

And we’re not talking about a small group. We’re talking about over 50% of our world.

Have a good weekend.

Leanne Beagley

One month to go until World Mental Health Day on Saturday 10 October

As this week’s World Suicide Prevention Day and R U OK? Day activities culminate in awareness and action, we are all reminded that it’s now just one month to go until World Mental Health Day on Saturday 10 October.

This year’s World Mental Health Day campaign is encouraging everyone to make a promise to “Look after your mental health, Australia.”

It is a simple call to action for the one in five Australians affected by mental illness annually, and for the many more impacted by the current COVID-19 pandemic, and the increased uncertainty and anxiety that has ensued over the last six months.

Read the full release

Go to the World Mental Health Day website and make a mental health promise



On Monday I’ll be meeting with new Mind Australia CEO Gill Callister.

On Tuesday I’m looking forward to meeting the Embrace Multicultural Mental Health CALD Consumer and Carer Group via Zoom and I will represent the mental health sector at a regular Stakeholder Advisory Group of the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority.

On Wednesday we’ll be meeting with the Consumers Health Forum to continue to develop our partnership and look at ways to assist each other in our advocacy work, while that afternoon I’m looking forward to catching up with Susi Wise, PHN Executive Officer for the National Cooperative about mental health and PHNs and further collaborative work.

Also on Wednesday I’ll be meeting with Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Mental Health, Dr Ruth Vine.

On Thursday I’ll be taking part in an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare research discussion, while on Friday I’ll be catching up with Liz Callaghan (CEO Carers Australia) to further develop our partnerships and Nieves Murray from Suicide Prevention Australia to debrief on this week’s World Suicide Prevention Day activities, outcomes and next steps.


Embrace Multicultural Mental Health News

The Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (the Framework) is a free, nationally available online resource which allows organisations and individual practitioners to evaluate and enhance their cultural responsiveness. It has been mapped against national standards to help you meet your existing requirements, with access to a wide range of support and resources. 

Our next webinar will be held on Wednesday 14 October where we will be exploring Module 4: Building a Culturally Responsive Mental Health Workforce. Watch this space for registration details closer to the date.

Good Practice Guide: Working with people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds 

Embrace Multicultural Mental Health has published a Good Practice Guide for working with people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. The purpose of this guide is to provide information to Australian mental health services, practitioners, Primary Health Networks and others on what good practice looks like in working effectively with people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds. It is intended to provide practical advice and guidance for mental health service providers. 

The guide can be accessed here.


Mental Health News

Indigenous leaders call for input to renew Indigenous Suicide Prevention Strategy

Marking World Suicide Prevention Day, Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia (GDPSA) announced the renewal of the 2013 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy (NATSISPS) and called for stakeholders to make sure their voices are heard during the process.

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Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations provide comprehensive community-led solutions to deal with suicide prevention

Suicide is the fifth leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with suicide rates twice as high as that for other Australians (source: ABS data). This week saw World Suicide Prevention Day and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) would like to highlight innovative work done by its members to address disproportionate suicide rates amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. 

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State of the nation in suicide prevention survey: a survey of the suicide prevention sector

Suicide Prevention Australia is the national peak body for the suicide prevention sector. We number among our membership many of the largest and smallest suicide prevention organisations, as well as individuals with lived experience of suicide, research and subject matter expertise. We designed the State of the Nation in Suicide Prevention Survey to gather in-depth intelligence from our membership and the broader suicide prevention sector.

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World Suicide Prevention Day an opportunity to renew commitment

The Australian Association of Social Workers is concerned about the impacts COVID-19 has had on the mental health of many people in Australia, and on World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September) the AASW called on all levels of Australian government to commit to action to address the rate of suicide in the community. 

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Enhancing suicide prevention on R U OK? Day and World Suicide Prevention Day

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, says this week, on World Suicide Prevention Day and R U OK? Day, the Australian Government officially launched vital suicide prevention aftercare services in six states and territories, as well as providing a further $19 million to extend leading national suicide prevention services.

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Decision on telehealth expansion urgently needed

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) is urging the Federal Government to immediately confirm the expansion of the telehealth MBS item numbers past the 30 September expiry date.

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Joint statement regarding suicide death video on social media

eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, and National Suicide Prevention Adviser to the Prime Minister, Christine Morgan, have this week urged all Australians to avoid viewing or sharing a disturbing video currently circulating on social media platforms.  The deeply distressing content has gone viral across global online platforms, and is currently being shared by Australians.

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Regional communities hardest hit by suicide

Regional Australians impacted by suicide are more likely to experience multiple loses of family, friends and community members (67%) compared to their city counterparts (60%) - new research has revealed for the first time. 

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Member Profiles

Speech Pathology Australia is the national peak body for speech pathologists in Australia. Speech pathologists are the university-trained allied health professionals who specialise in diagnosing and treating communication and swallowing problems (dysphagia). For many reasons, people living with a mental illness are at a significantly greater risk of experiencing both communication and swallowing difficulties than the general population.  Speech pathologists are an important part of the mental health team, assessing and improving a person’s communication and swallowing skills to contribute to the differential diagnostic process and help the individual function physically, socially and mentally at home, in the classroom, in the workplace, in social situations and in mental health treatment programs.

Connections is a not-for-profit community service organisation that provides individual support, training, programs and advocacy in the support of mental health and wellbeing. Connections vision is to Improve Mental Health in the Community and achieves this by providing relevant evidence-based learning and life skill development programs that assist in the facilitation of recovery. Connections is committed to supporting people to be well resourced and make choices regarding all aspects of their individual support.  We encourage the people we work with to make informed decisions about every day and long-term lifestyle issues, and to direct their own journey towards well being and recovery.  Each person’s individual needs are identified, and the planning offered will be responsive to these needs. Connections acknowledges its responsibility to respond to the individual need of each participant, and ensures that the persons plan is guided by their individual goals and aspirations.



Invitation from the National Mental Health Commission - to Vision 2030 webinars to learn more about Vision 2030 and get involved

The Commission is connecting with all Australians on the Vision 2030 for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.

The National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) is stretching their thinking to envisage the long-term future when Australians at risk of, or experiencing, mental health concerns and suicidality can access a connected and well-functioning system.

The NMHC is leading the development of Vision 2030 Blueprint and Roadmap (Vision) which will provide a framework through which current recommendations, future strategies and plans can be viewed to ensure consistent approaches towards agreed goals. It covers research, prevention, early intervention, treatment, recovery and multi-sector approaches to psychosocial wellbeing.

The NMHC is currently undertaking phase three, development of an implementation roadmap. For more information on the development process so far please visit the NMHC website.

As such, they would like to invite you to participate in a consultation program to inform the content and recommendations of the Vision 2030 Roadmap via the following webinar events:

  • Mental Health Sector webinar - Thursday 17 September 2020, 11:00am - 12:30pm
  • Consumer and Carer webinar and Q&A - Friday 18 September 2020, 1:00 - 2:30pm

To register your interest in Vision and to receive the link for the upcoming webinars, please register as either an individual or an organisational representative.

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Supporting the physical health of older people’s mental health service consumers: practical tips, research and practice improvement

This webinar will provide practical advice and the latest research evidence on improving the physical health of older people living with mental illness. Building on what we know and what we have, the session will include practical tips for practice improvement work, based on experience to date in this project, and lots of opportunity for questions and discussion. It will describe the overall project approach, building on previous statewide OPMH practice improvement work in NSW.

It will include snapshots from 3 local practice improvement projects, each of them building on existing resources or approaches in the area of improving the physical health of older people with mental illness using a ‘start where you can’ approach.

When: Tuesday, 15 September 2020 at 12pm.

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Addiction and Mental Health Services Therapy Capability Framework

Metro South Addiction and Mental Health Services has created an evidence-informed framework to strengthen their workforce.

The Addiction and Metnal Health Services Therapy Capability Frameworks (TCF) highlights Therapeutic Pillars which represent specific therapies and interventions (Consumer, Carer and Family engagement, Trauma Informed Care, Physical Health Care and Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies) to guide targeted areas of health provision offered at Metro South Addiction and Mental Health Services.

The Therapy Capability Framework can be used by individual staff and organisations as a process to understand their current workforce capabilities and plan for the future.

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TheMHS Perth Conference is Going Virtual!

It has never been more important for our mental health community to connect, learn and grow. While the challenges of COVID-19 now preclude TheMHS from having a face-to-face event in Perth, they’ve had such a fantastic response to their Call for Abstracts that they are taking the event online.

All the things you love about TheMHS conferences will still be there – outstanding speakers, engaging content, creative sessions and yes, even networking! TheMHS are determined to bring you the very best in a virtual conference experience and to deliver easily digestible ‘blocks’ of content. That means the conference will now be accessible to the many of you affected by travel restrictions.

TheMHS believes this is the safest, most responsible and inclusive way to bring you an inspiring TheMHS Perth Conference 2021. So, if you haven’t already, put 9-12 February 2021 in your diary.  

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COVID survey for people with lived-experience of BPD

The COVID-19 outbreak has led to considerable changes to our economy, society and healthcare system. Apart from the general community stress related to COVID-19 itself, we’ve needed to adapt to a range of challenges during the outbreak. Isolating from friends, relatives and broader society as well as navigating the rapid shift of in-person mental healthcare services to telehealth, have imposed additional stressors on vulnerable people. The early consequences of these recent and dramatic changes at a population level are unknown.

This survey is a joint collaboration between the Australian BPD Foundation and Spectrum Personality Disorder Service. If you live in Australia and have a diagnosis of BPD (or identify with the symptoms of BPD), you are invited to share your experiences of mental health support and treatment you have received from public, private and community health services using telehealth since the restrictions came into effect. 

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Make a #MentalHealthPromise for World Mental Health Day!

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